Pharmacy and football go hand in hand for elite sportswoman

This talented Australian professional sportswoman has been kicking goals both in the world of international football and at her university studies in pharmacy.

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Professional Australian footballer Elise Kellond-Knight has applied the same methods that have helped her rise up the elite sporting ranks to also achieving in her university Pharmacy studies.

“It requires discipline and dedication. You can’t take shortcuts and you must be organised…”

Is high achieving Griffith University student Elise Kellond-Knight referring to her Pharmacy studies? Or her career as a professional football player for German club Turbine Potsdam and Australia’s national women’s team the Westfield Matildas?

Both, says the 25-year old, known to her teammates as KK.

“The two complement each other perfectly – and to do well in each one requires many of the same habits,” she says.

“Being disciplined and organised has helped enormously with my studies and my studies have helped enormously with my sporting career. For example, topics such as metabolism, anatomy and health have given me so much insight into what my body needs to function at its peak.”

Kellond-Knight has been kicking goals on both the sporting and academic fronts since her talent with the round ball emerged two decades ago, courtesy of the fact that older brother James had been signed up for a season with local club Runaway Bay Hawks, on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

“Dad was the coach of my brother’s junior team – a little worrying since he’s never played the game himself!” she says.

“I would tag along to their training after school, as I was too young to join my own team or be home alone. It wasn’t long before Dad signed me up for the Under 6s boys team. I competed with the boys and earned their respect. And I fell in love with the game.”

Kellond-Knight’s dedication to the sport through her school years was matched by that of her parents, who put in hundreds of hours on the sidelines – and on the road.

“I remember Dad spending three years of his life driving me every afternoon after school to the football academy in Brisbane,” she says.

“Mum and Dad have been my biggest fans and supporters…they followed me to state titles and national titles when I was 14 and they continue to follow me around the world, whenever they can.

“I think for them it’s kind of surreal to think they were once watching their small child running on for her local club and now they’re watching her play at the top level in front of thousands of fans.

“I’ve been playing in Germany since July last year so it’s been some time since they watched me on Australian soil but I love it when they come to my games – they’re my biggest motivation; I still want to make them proud.”

Aptitude in maths and chemistry saw Kellond-Knight enrol in a Bachelor of Pharmacy at Queensland’s Griffith University, after finishing Year 12 in 2007.

She completed the degree over six years but put her substantially-completed Masters studies on hold a year ago to pursue a full-time playing opportunity with east German club Turbine Potsdam, where she has a two-year contract.

Excelling on the field and in the study halls made for a frenetic few years.

“My late teens and early 20s were consumed with study, training and competing,” Kellond-Knight says.

“It was never easy but I liked the challenge and the feeling that I was completing and achieving things. I am a perfectionist at heart and a competitive athlete so I always approach my assessments wanting 100 per cent too.”

While her studies are taking a backseat to football for the moment, Kellond-Knight hopes a research career – either back home or further afield – may beckon when she hangs up her boots.

Dementia research – and the prospect of a pharmacological treatment to prevent its onset – has piqued her interest.

“Without a definite understanding of the mechanism of the disease, it’s no wonder a successful primary treatment option is yet to be discovered,” Kellond-Knight says.

“It would be great to work in this area one day, as it’s something which affects so many of the population.

“I love science and I have always had an interest in research and problem solving. Living in Berlin, which is home to some of the biggest drug companies in the world, I’ve been able to see how many career paths the discipline can offer and I’ve had the chance to look into some opportunities for myself.

“Whatever I choose to do, it has to be challenging and progressive. The thought of lifetime learning interests me immensely and I look forward to my career after football. Although before this, I have medals to win and dreams to make reality!”

NAB is a very proud partner of the Westfield Matildas – for more, visit nab.com.au/football